I've been sewing sentimental quilts and memory pillows for people for years. It all starts with an initial phone call or email. People inquire about cost, size, how long it will take, and they always ask, "So what types of clothing should I give you?" Customers are often surprised by my answer. Don't give me perfect shirts still in the store wrapping or dresses with store tags dangling from the sleeves. These are garments to be donated. The most meaningful quilts and pillows come from clothing that was worn--worn a lot. It might be a favorite Disney t-shirt that is now threadbare or a button down shirt with pen stains on the pocket. Imperfections are the perfect way to make a meaningful project. I fondly remember making six custom memory pillows for a women to give to all of her cousins. The pillows were to be made from their grandmother's hand embroidered tablecloths.
When the woman was showing me the tablecloths, she kept apologizing about all of the coffee stains on the material. After several of her apologies, I had to interrupt her and say these coffee stains are pure gold. They tell me that your grandmother entertained and that her gatherings were lingering. She didn't feed people and push them out of the door. She had dinners that people didn't want to leave. In fact, friends and family probably lingered over coffee. Stories were shared and memories were made. My customer nodded her head, yes, that was how it was. I made certain that each pillow that I created contained the grandmother's amazing embroidery skills and a few coffee stains. The imperfections are where the memories are.